Monday, August 30, 2010

B's Zucchini Relish

School has started, for teachers at least, and I have been as busy as expected. But with good things. And because all of those things have been so good, but busy, I need some time to process it all. But I will say that the year is off to a good start and I am looking forward.

But to look backwards for a moment, I want to write about my maternal grandmother's zucchini relish, something I mentioned in my last post. It has been quite a hit with the people I have shared it with so I figured it was worth mentioning here again.
This isn't your average relish, one that is reminiscent of a dill pickle. This is a heavenly concoction that is sweet and sour at the same time, that goes on just about anything you are whipping up for dinner. We recently ate it with grilled burgers, but you can also put it on chicken, mix it with cream cheese for a tasty spread for crackers or fresh bread and you could even use it for curry, which I think I will try this week.

I don't know where the recipe originated or if it goes back any more generations than my grandmother. What I do know is that it is tried, true and tested, year after year, by my mom's family to be a tasty recipe worth making in the hot summer months. I don't have any special memories of it really, but it has always been there in the fridge, ready to dollop on this or that. This summer it was a nice surprise to discover it again, next to the fixins' for a burger (which included the most delectable sweet onions) at my aunt and uncle's house in Lebanon, Oregon.
And that is really all I have to say about it. It is damn tasty and I encourage you to make it as well because the recipe is a cinch to make, especially if you have a Cuisinart or mandolin (which I don't). The recipe here is not for canning purposes, but you can easily can the relish after it is cooked. The recipe follows.

B's Zucchini Relish

10 cups of grated zucchini
4 cups onion, grated
1 red pepper, grated
1 green pepper, grated
3 tablespoons of salt

Combine in glass bowl and let sit over night.

Drain in the morning and add:

2 1/4 cups of apple cider vinegar
4 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Bring to a boil then simmer for 40 minutes. Taste for salt and spices and adjust to your liking. My mom says cinnamon, garlic and celery seed can be added as well.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

August Back in Istanbul

Having been back for a week now, we have settled into a summer routine that will luckily continue for another week before I have to go back to work. It has been good and surprisingly restful after a busy summer.

The weather has been unbearably hot and humid, but I think we are finally acclimated to it. We toyed with the idea of getting air conditioning installed, but it would take at least a week's wait to have it installed as we aren't the only ones with the bright idea, but by then, we would all be back at work and school, where we have air conditioning. So we decided to have it installed in the off season in order to arm ourselves in the event next summer is a steamy as this one, and get it at half the price.

So, how do you stay home all day in the heat with two four-year-olds? A schedule. The first thing is breakfast followed by a trip in a gloriously air-conditioned car to the store, or the nursery for flowers, or Starbucks. Then we come home for some quiet toy play, followed by lunch and then a nap. Then the fun begins with water play. Take two boys slathered in sunscreen armed with two buckets, throw in a couple of bath toys, turn on the hose and you have at least an hour of water fun. Ali and Omer have also been enjoying an afternoon glass of chocolate milk, made excitedly by their own little hands. We also whipped up some popsicles, a summer treat that is always a big hit with the under five crowd. When the day slowly turns into a cooler evening, we enjoy an alfresco meal, something grilled with a salad and Ramazan pide. Each meal is followed by a trip to the park for some twilight swinging, then a hose down before the bedtime ritual begins. Then is starts all over again.

On my end, I decided not to have the cleaning lady in for the two weeks I will be home, so I have taken charge of all the domestic tasks. Going back to basics has been good and character building. It also makes me appreciate more the ladies who are usually here doing these jobs. I tackled the mountain of laundry, which was followed by a mountain of ironing, in the evenings after the boys went to bed, when the temperature dropped to a slightly less steamy 27 degrees. This week it will be the floors, changing the sheets and cleaning the bathrooms. I have also been going through all of the closets and drawers and purging the house of items we haven't used in over a year.

Food has also played a role in my domestic holiday. Our neighbor brought over a huge zucchini from his garden and it had "relish" written all over it so I whipped up a batch of my grandma Prince's zucchini relish. This summer part of my mom's family and I feasted on burgers with this relish, something I had forgotten existed. One taste and I was transported back to her 100-year-old kitchen in Gold Beach, Oregon where one summer my mom and aunts made a winter's supply. I was surprised at how easy it was to make. The color was a little more caramelized than the original version since I burned the bottom (gas stoves can really kick out some heat) but the taste is still the same. Another tasty dish comes from a blog that I just found titled "Kiss My Spatula." You can find it here. She has a recipe for zucchini crudo, an ideal summer dish because it requires no cooking. Perfect. For this weekend I will attempt to make zeytinyagli dolma, or stuffed vine leaves, a cool, cinnamony, lemony dish that is actually pretty easy to make. Iced tea and ice cream have also made repeat performances in my attempt to keep cool and the cooler evenings are always celebrated with a cold, crisp glass of beer.

So, that is what I have been up to. School starts on the 23rd, and I am sure the expression "hit the ground running" will apply. I will no doubt miss the lazy dog days of summer with the boys.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Friends, Family, lobsters and burgers

The title refers to what I was focused on most of the summer, which went by too quickly. I wish I could say I was feeling less busy and had more free time, but traveling with twin 4 year-old boys is many things, and relaxing isn't one of them.

We just arrived in last night from our trans-Atlantic flight, from a cool and pleasant, and often chilly and foggy, Nova Scotian summer to a steamy Istanbul summer. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and luckily there is a breeze to cool the beads of sweat that form on my upper lip. At least the sweating will help me to shed some of the eating I did over the summer.

We were all awake at 2 am today, so we feasted on the leftover airplane snacks like blueberries, chocolate covered granola bars, gummy bears, and 30 Rock. Luckily, we did fall asleep and got a decent night's rest. Koray is back to work today, so Ali, Omer and I are at home re-adjusting. There is literally a mountain of suitcases waiting to be sorted through, but that may wait until tomorrow.

So, with all of that to do, I will write more about our North American holiday at a later date and post some pictures. At the moment, I have a date with two little boys and a family of teddy bears.

Enjoy the rest of summer.